After Claire: In Search of a Habitable Life by John R. Wallis’
For a man whose profession is based on listening to other people and helping them navigate through life’s biggest emotional issues, this was the kind of jolt that forced Dr. Paul Mason to turn his examination inward – and in a big way.
In John R. Wallis’s suspense-filled After Claire: In Search of a Habitable Life, it begins for Mason, who happens to be a psychotherapist, as a typical trip to the grocery store with his wife Claire. But the car ride quickly turns sour when Claire tells Paul she wants a divorce.
In a moment of utter shock and disbelief, Paul is distracted and takes his eyes off the road, running a red light. That single act results in a car crash that kills Claire. Now, Paul must grapple with both his grief and his guilt while also trying to piece together why Claire wanted to divorce him in the first place. What’s more, Paul, now a single father, must deal alone with the effects on his nine-year-old daughter Allie.
As a psychotherapist, Mason must find ways to separate his personal issues from the issues of his patients. This matter becomes particularly difficult when he takes on a new patient, Angela, looking to garner the strength to leave her older boyfriend, Carlos, who is involved in drug trafficking. Paul feels for Angela and is determined to help her through until he receives a threatening visit from Carlos. Carlos dangles the idea that Mason’s daughter is in danger if he continues to treat Angela.
From the start, Wallis leaves readers thirsting for more as the suspense continues to grow. With multiple surprising cliffhangers throughout, it’s easy for readers to be hooked.
Seeing the grieving process from the mind of a psychotherapist provides readers with an interesting point of view. Wallis brings an authenticity to the story based on his background as a retired psychotherapist himself, providing a realistic and engaging look at the doctor-client relationship with all its nuances, and shedding light at the same time on what’s going through Mason’s head as the narrative twists and turns.
Also, by diving deep into the psyche of many of the characters, Wallis develops strong, complex personalities early on, creating empathy in the reader, sometimes for even the less likable characters.
EDGE OF YOUR SEAT
Mason’s daughter Allie in particular has to deal with the complex transition from child-like innocence and great loss to some emotional place radically different as danger grows.
And what about Carlos’ threat to Mason if he doesn’t stop seeing Angela? How will that play out? Mason has a sense of responsibility toward Angela, but he knows he must put his daughter’s safety above all.
This psychological crime thriller continuously poses questions that will captivate readers throughout. Wallis’s detailed and stylistic writing makes the novel a fluid read even as it addresses difficult subjects like grief, mental health, domestic violence, and psychotherapy. Overall, In After Claire: In Search of a Habitable Life, Wallis has created a tight mystery novel centered around a believable and enthralling depiction of a man overcome with grief and how he attempts to cope. We highly recommend this book.
Retired psychotherapist and couples’ therapist John R Wallis uses his personal experiences from years working in therapy as the main source of inspiration for his writing. He now lives in New Smyrna Beach, FL. In addition to this book, he has published a short story, Helen’s Birthday. He has also been featured three times in the journal Lectionary Homiletics. Learn more on his website.
Publish Date: January 14, 2022
Genre: Fiction, Thrillers
Author: John R. Wallis’
Page Count: 266 pages